Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Psyatics CD Release show at the Double Down Saloon, Las Vegas Saturday April 25, 2015

OK, I played two sets this evening before the Psyatics hit the stage, so I was not at my reporting best by the time these cats hit the stage, but they did a terrific set of tunes from both their debut CD as well as the brand new one that this night was celebrating. Joining the band was dancer Ivana Blaze, giving the group an extra visual boost, as she shimmied along with the high energy garage tunes. Pretty damned packed house for the gang and great response all around. Truly fun and I promise to be more descriptive the next time I see them!


Friday, April 24, 2015

Jimmy Reed - 5 Classic Albums Plus Singles

Of course, I have always dug Jimmy Reed's swampy blues-rock, ever since I first heard bands like the Rolling Stones cover his work. I have a couple of releases by the man - his Best of the Vee-Jay Years is pretty awesome for a collection of his hits - but this 4-CD set is pretty damn comprehensive. You get the hits here - "Big Boss Man", "Goin' to New York", "Hush Hush", "Bright Lights, Big City", "Honest I Do", "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby", "Baby What You Want Me To Do", etc. - but so much more!

Everything here is solid and everything is classic Reed - swampy, bluesy, groovin', harp-driven and just frickin' cool!

This is another discount-priced package, so well worth the money, even if the packaging is sparse. The music is where it's at and man, it's a winner!

Gospel Juke Box Hits

I've been diggin' early gospel for a number of years now, but still don't know about a lot of the people
involved, so I dig these cool, reasonably-priced box sets. This 4-CD compilation isn't all stellar - I'm still mostly a sucker for the racous, jumpin'n'praisin' - but it does have some fantastic stuff and was well worth the money!

I do love early Staples Singers (actually, all of their career is pretty terrific) and they, rightfully, open this set with "This May Be the Last Time" - obviously where the Stones got their title for their less-than-religious hit song. This is followed by the soulful preachin' of the Highway QC's, some almost country corniess by the Prophets, the righteous harmonizing of the Five Blind Boys and the Harmonizing Four, the energetic sermonizin' from the Mighty Clouds of Joy and their band, the solemn Wilhelmena Fernandez, the soul-pop of the Platters (who also get pretty darn funky later), the rockin' "Can I Get a Witness"-soundin' "Thank the Lord" from the Blind Boys of Mississippi, and some fine return cuts from most of the above. All this on the first CD!

The other 3 CDs mostly contain the same artists - with a few extra guests - and are all pretty exceptional, overall. This is a superior compilation, showing many of the different facets of real gospel music. Well worth it!

Howlin' Wolf Memphis Days, the Definitive Edition, Vol. 1

There are numerous giants of the blues, but the Wolf has to be the biggest - literally and figuratively. If there is anyone who epitomizes everything about the blues - from the overall-wearin' country shouter to the slick-suited city bluesman - it is this man and his wonderfully raw and exciting sounds. This CD compiles cuts Chester did for Sam Phillips in Sun Studios in Memphis before moving to Chicago.

Besides his incredibly imposing vocals, Burnett also adds harmonica and guitar, while Willie Johnson provides some terrific earthy, fantastically distorted lead guitar and Willie Steele smacks the drums. At times there are some horns (used to great effect) and piano (Ike Turner plays on some cuts) and it all is pretty damn spectacular!

If you've ever heard the Wolf (and lord help you if you haven't!), you know how great he is. This stuff is not some of his more famous tracks, but it is all right up there with his best. Essential!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

recommended gigs

Friday April 24 - Spotted Dick and the Wlyde Knights, TWAT, Gashers, Sounds of Threat - Double Down - Get there early for a Mapes video shoot!

Saturday April 25 - the Swamp Gospel at the Double Down with Thee Fourgiven and the Psyatics
Saturday April 25 - the All Togethers at the Mormon Fort - 6:00pm

Friday May 1 - the return of the Holy Smokes at the Double Down with the Astaires, Ditch Diggers, Psyatics
Friday May 1 - Motobunny, Alan Six - Dive Bar

Saturday May 2 - 3d6, Water Landing, Forget Me Nows, Another Castle - Adrenaline

Sunday May 3 - The All Togethers at Bar and Bistro Hangover Brunch

Thursday May 7 - The All Togethers at the Beauty Bar

Wednesday May 13 - Shanda and the Howlers with the Royal Hounds at the Griffin

Friday May 15 - Wayne Hancock, Clydesdale, All Togethers - Beauty Bar
Friday May 15 - The Super Zeroes at the Double Down

Thursday May 21 - the Delta Bombers at Triple B

Friday May 22 - the Humpers and the Hangmen at the Beauty Bar

Friday May 29 - Super Zeros, O's of Presidential, Radio Silence - Double Down

Saturday May 30 - Eddy Bear and the Cubs and Cashed Out at the Beauty Bar

Sunday May 31 - the Astaires with Sharks From Mars at the Double Down

Wednesday June 3 - Dick Dale at the Hard Rock on the Strip

Friday June 12 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Sunday June 14 - The Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Velveteen Rabbit with the Peculiar Pretzelmen

Friday June 19 - Slaughter and the Dogs at the Dive Bar

Wednesday July 17 - Adolescents and Weirdos at the Dive Bar

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Sonics - This is the Sonics

I have been rantin'n'ravin' about the live return of the Sonics and have finally picked up their first new
album in 50 years or so! This one is a true scorcher, showing the younger groups how garage rock'n'roll should be done! Yes, there are a number of covers, but they always threw some into the mix and made them their own, and these are no exception.

I have a hard time finding fault with anyone's take on the fantastic "I Don't Need No Doctor" and these cats individualize the arrangement and make it smokin' hot! Guitarist Larry Parypa starts off the raucous "Be a Woman" with power chords and cool licks and everyone provides a hard'n'heavy rave-up section at the end. Jerry & bassist Freddie trade off lead vocals throughout the record and both are in fine voice here. Freddie has a cool, raw yet melodic voice, not dissimilar to Jerry's. But it is a pleasure to hear Jerry still shriekin'n'shoutin' as he does in "Bad Betty", where he also trades organ'n'sax riffs with horn master Rob Lind. Their take on "You Can't Judge a Book" has a captivating, climbing chord progression and poundin' drums and may be tellin' the story of these gents themselves - they may look like grandpas, but they still rock with the best of them!

Drummer Dusty Watson propels "The Hard Way" with machine-gun drum fills, aided by Jerry's piano work and cool sax fills and the prerequisite "hey hey heys!". Freddie does a fine job on "Sugaree", which could easily have appeared on one of their 60's albums (more amazing sax'n'guitar playing here, as well). "Leaving Here" is another tune that is difficult to do a bad job on, and they Sonic-fy it with some cool sax'n'harp blowin'. I thought that they actually did "Little Sister" on one of the earlier albums, but maybe it was another NW group, cuz this is a natural for them. There's a bit of "Shot Down" in "I Got Your Number (and it's 666)", not that there's anything wrong with that!

Borrowing a bit from their old pals, the Wailers' song "Hang Up", "Living in Chaos" is a screamer for Freddie. Not exactly hippie fare, "Save the Planet" actually extols the virtues of drinkin'n'partyin' ('reality's for people who don't know how to drink"), backed by a swingin', almost funky, guitar riff and cool organ'n'sax. Dusty continues to give it all he's got on the closer, "Spend the Night", and Larry fires off a fierce solo and some truly heavy power chords, while Jerry shows that he can still be lewd and crude even at his age!

Absolutely inspirational that these fine gents can still put out a monstrous slab of rock'n'roll. Get it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Earl Hooker - The Genius of Earl Hooker

I was quite impressed when I discovered that Earl's instrumental "Blue Guitar" was the original backing track for Muddy Waters' classic "I Can't Quit You" and went on to discover his Two Bugs and a Roach LP. This record I have simply stumbled upon on You Tube and it looks like I will have to grab this, as well!

Opening with a swingin', soulful, slide instrumental, "Two Bugs in a Rug" (obviously referencing his earlier work), you get a terrific groove with excellent playing and fine writing. This continues in his terrific instrumental take of "Hold On, I'm Comin'", where he utilizes some cool tricks like volume control to great effect. "Off the Hook" comes off like a fine Booker T. and the MGs number (lots of fine Hammond organ work throughout this record), and "Dust My Broom" takes on a new life with Earl's combined slide and finger work - you know what the song is, but he adds plenty of his own personality here! The sax and organ work add a new dimension, as well. The band gets funky with "Hot and Heavy", with great playing all around (dig the sax!) and some interesting chord progressions and they again remind me a lot of Booker T. in "The Screwdriver", where Hooker even gets in some chicken pickin'!

Sounding like a slide guitar version of doo-wop, we get the sweet singin' tones of "Bertha", a fine dance number with "The Foxtrot", and a traditional blues in "End of the Blues". Hooker goes country with a cover of Ernest Tubb's "Walking the Floor Over You", which is a bit unique with its yakety sax and Hammond organ but the "Hooker Special" is a cool piece of drivin' funk. It all closes with the funnily-named "Something You Ate", another fun bit of slide-driven blues-soul.

I know Earl is known for his guitar work more than his singing, but I was a bit surprised that he doesn't open his mouth at all on this one. But, regardless, lots of super playing and songs throughout. Well worth it!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Motorcycle Black Madonnas, Thee Fourgiven and The Unclaimed at the Redwood Bar, Los Angeles, April 18, 2015

This is one that I've been looking forward to for several months - the first reunion show for my 80's band Thee Fourgiven, along with good friends in the MBM's and the group that started it all, the legendary Unclaimed!

Although it was their record release show (new vinyl/CD release, These Days - more on that soon), the Motorcycle Black Madonnas were gracious enough to open up the show. Led by husband and wife team Marea and Jonathan Hall (Backbiter/Freeks), the band smoked through a set of tunes from their two CDs, mixing Marea's Patti Smith/Bob Dylan influenced lyrics with Jonathan's incredible guitar playing and compelling arrangements. I've always been a fan of Hall's playing - he is one of the best around and I love what he's doing as he alternates from his Strat - excellent whammy-bar work - to his hollow-body Guild. The rhythm section of Richard Jones (bass) and John Collinson (drums) moves from powerhouse bashing to fine subtlety behind M&J and the whole package seemed to win over the crowd right from the start.


This was the first reunion show for the Fourgiven so we had to return to our old LA stompin' grounds and were happy to see so many old friends make it out to lend their support. Everyone was terrific and we had a blast playing, even as I snapped the neck off of my SG in the throes of a noise solo in "Anything"! We will be playing more, so "like" our Facebook page and come out when you can!


The Unclaimed were the band (or, at least one of the first) that started the 60's revival on the west coast and were always one of the best! Led by singer/guitarist/lead guru/visionary Shelley Ganz, the group went through several personnel changes before splitting up in the late 80's. The new line-up includes former Unclaimed/Yard Trauma/Outsideinside and too-many-more-to-name bassist Lee Joseph (who also owns Dionysus Records - home of Thee Fourgiven), former Droogs/Dream Syndicate/also-too-many-to-name Dave Provost on lead guitar and Dave Drewry - also veteran of numerous groups - on drums.


The set comprised of songs from the Primordial Ooze Flavored 12" EP, like the classic "No Apology" and "Lost Trails", unreleased (I think) tunes like "My Kind" and numbers from the Attila and the Huns record ("Betty Cooper", "Under the Bodhi Tree"). Of course, they pulled out some of the raw garage songs that they helped to introduce to the world like "Bad Girl" and the Syndicate of Sound hit, "Hey Little Girl" (which they have done throughout the entirety of their career).


Naturally, this is a bit different from the other line-ups, but it is all still prototypical Unclaimed. Shelley looks and sounds terrific, Dave is a fine and expressive lead guitarist, Dave D. is a pounder and, of course, Lee is up their with the best bassists around. See them when you can!






Thursday, April 16, 2015

recommended gigs

Friday April 17 - the All Togethers at Artifice
Friday April 17 - 3d6, Lambs to Lions, SFT, Unit F, Horroripilation - Adrenaline

Saturday April 18 - the Unwieldies at Dillinger

Friday April 24 - Spotted Dick and the Wlyde Knights, TWAT, Gashers, Sounds of Threat - Double Down

Saturday April 25 - the Swamp Gospel at the Double Down with Thee Fourgiven and the Psyatics
Saturday April 25 - the All Togethers at the Mormon Fort - 6:00pm

Friday May 1 - the return of the Holy Smokes at the Double Down with the Astaires, Ditch Diggers, Psyatics
Friday May 1 - Motobunny, Alan Six - Dive Bar

Saturday May 2 - 3d6, Water Landing, Forget Me Nows, Another Castle - Adrenaline

Wednesday May 13 - Shanda and the Howlers with the Royal Hounds at the Griffin

Friday May 15 - Wayne Hancock, Clydesdale, All Togerhers - Beauty Bar

Friday May 22 - the Humpers and the Hangmen at the Beauty Bar

Saturday May 30 - Eddy Bear and the Cubs and Cashed Out at the Beauty Bar

Sunday May 31 - the Astaires with Sharks From Mars at the Double Down

Wednesday June 3 - Dick Dale at the Hard Rock on the Strip

Friday June 12 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Sunday June 14 - The Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Velveteen Rabbit with the Peculiar Pretzelmen

Friday June 19 - Slaughter and the Dogs at the Dive Bar

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!